The most common type of headache is a tension headache. These headaches are often caused by stress and muscle tension. In most cases, tension headaches do not result in nausea, vomiting, or light sensitivity. They do cause a steady ache, rather than a throbbing one, and tend to affect both sides of the head. Tension headaches may be chronic, occurring often, or every day.
Tension headache symptoms include:
Tension headaches may appear as symptoms of other conditions or medical problems. Diagnosis should always be sought from your healthcare provider.
Tension headaches are mainly diagnosed based on the symptoms you report. It may be necessary to conduct a thorough medical exam, which may include other tests or procedures, to rule out underlying diseases or conditions.
Making an accurate diagnosis requires tracking and sharing headache information with your healthcare provider.
During the exam, you may be asked the following questions:
Depending on the history and neurological exam, further testing may not be necessary. Other tests may be required, however, if the headache is not the main problem, such as:
Treatment aims to prevent headaches from occurring. It is imperative to reduce stress and tension in order to manage headaches effectively. Here are some suggestions:
Tension headaches can be prevented by identifying and avoiding headache triggers. It is also helpful to maintain a regular sleep, exercise, and meal schedule. Therapy such as cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation therapy, or biofeedback may reduce or eliminate tension headaches if they occur frequently or regularly. Consult your healthcare provider about possible headache medications.
When a severe headache is the "most severe headache ever," it requires immediate attention.
Here are some tips to help you get the most out of your healthcare appointment:
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